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"Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants."

Monday, March 05, 2012

I've been reading The Omnivore's Dilemma over the past couple months. And, it has really inspired me to take a hard look at my diet. Over the years, I've focused most my energy on exercise, which has been good (I ran 2 marathons!) and bad (I've been in PT 3 times).

The more I read Michael Pollan, the more interested I've become in what exactly I am eating. There are so many diets out there, and lifestyles, it's really hard to choose. This weekend, I watched two great documentaries: Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (about disease-eradication with juicing/ raw vegan food choices) and Forks Over Knives (about the 'China Study' and the US govt). Combined with the Michael Pollan, I've decided that the one main thread in all this information is : Eat More Vegetables.

Or, as Mr. Pollan puts it so well: "Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants."

It's not just eating more vegetables on top of dairy and meat. It's actually about replacing dairy and meat with as many vegetables as you can. It's all about eating whole foods. And, not necessarily whole foods from Whole Foods (which is a little bit backward in its marketing of organic produce from across the world).

I mean, it's about eating vegetables from sources you can actually go visit. Organic or not, just a place you can point to and say "I see how this is produced, and it is OK with me."

This goes not only for vegetables, but for meat as well. The more you can actually trace where you food is from, and the closer it is - the better it is for the earth, for you, and - the more I read - for the animal, too.

I thought the worst of animal-treatment was handed to the cow. But, compared to how chickens are treated (just for their eggs), the cows' lives seem luxurious. The 'organic' label doesn't mean animals are necessarily treated more humanely. In some ways they are treated worse because they are in equally close quarters but have no antibiotics to resist disease.

After reading books like The Omnivore's Dilemma, and watching Food Inc and all those other excellent books and movies, it's easy to feel disgusted with America and with yourself. Buying organic eggs no longer gives you that warm fuzzy feeling. You might think, what can I do, other than go vegan?

Plenty! And I think the popularity and eye-opening of all this media over the last decade has only made our choices more plentiful.

1) Support local produce and farms. -- Find a CSA in your area. Or if you are in a rural place, meet some farmers, or people who raise their own chickens & eggs. Organic, on a small scale is wonderful, but locality should be the highest priority.

2) Buy a juicer.* - I am in a family of two, and I'd always avoided CSAs because I thought I could never eat the full share of veggies, and it was a waste of food. I've realized, when I do the math (at high Manhattan prices) my veggie share is only $20/ week (I would easily spend that in the market here) , for much more and more healthful produce than I could buy at ANY market. Buying a juicer (my birthday gift this year! ) will help me increase my consumption of greens, prevent "waste, " and will boost my health to boot!

*I know in the past I've said Don't Drink Juice. What I should have said was, don't drink Processed Fruit Juice. There is a huge difference. One has all the nutrients you could ever ask for (and can be made of greens you purchase), and goes from vegetable to in you in one day. The other is mainly derived from fruit, processed (with added sugar of some sort), and then pasteurized so it can ship a thousand miles, and get in your body weeks later. The first one is all right with me.

3) Find a Heritage Meat source. -- I have one across the street from me. At first, $7/ lb for ground beef was hard to swallow. Then, I realized, if I actually do as suggested and eat meat more as a side instead of a main course, (because veggies have taken this spot) , 1 lb of meat goes a lot farther.

4) Reduce or eliminate processed foods and refined foods - This includes most the carb- heavy (and incidentally also blood-sugar spiking) foods like: flour, sugar, white rice and corn products. I inadvertently did this last month, when I decided to watch my carbs. Now, I've added carbs back in, but 90% of my carbs now come from vegetables and fruit. (I'm watching the fruit the most because it does spike blood sugar a lot). I do eat some whole grains, but not a lot. Whole grains also count as a "side," up there with meat. White bread I consider a "treat" as well. And, I don't eat potatoes very often.

I started this plan out full-force last week, and I feel GREAT. I've lost 3 lbs. I feel ligher than I did when my diet was so protein-heavy (though, I consider that a great exercise for reducing white carbs).

Unlike most programs I've done in the past, this one I made for myself based on my personal ethics, my beliefs & readings about health, my love of food and cooking & enjoying meals, and what works best for me. This plan takes into account Food as Food, not just a nutrient.

I plan to keep this up as my general lifestyle going forward. It just makes so much sense to me, and really, with a CSA membership and "happy meat" included, our grocery bill hasn't increased very much at all (less than $20/ week). So, I have high hopes this plan will be sustainable for my lifestyle, not to mention more sustainable for the planet, and my conscience.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thank you, EGALITARE and IRONBLOSSOM! I do have a feeling this change is permanent... I'll be sure to give updates now and then. Thank God for Spark, I find all this reading so interesting and important- and this is a great forum to share ideas & reading suggestions! I will definitely check out The Vegetarian Myth!
    2272 days ago
    Congrats on the lifestyle decisions and to-date healthfulness - prediction is for more to come. If you are interested in more reading in the same vein as Pollan, I recommend The Vegetarian Myth. In additions to discussions about healthful eating, much food for thought regarding planetary sustainability and our food production/agricultural practices.
    2272 days ago
    Thanks for posting this! I've read about half of Pollan's book in fits and starts and he has such great ideas. I actually thought I was eating many more fruits and vegetables than it turned out I was once I started tracking my meals. Apparently just seeing the fruits and veggies in my kitchen isn't enough! My goal almost every week is to eat more of them and less meat and pasta!

    Keep it up!
    2272 days ago
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